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Casinos remain open — with cutbacks — during virus crisis

Casinos remain open — with cutbacks — during virus crisis

Rivers turns off half its slots, removes half its chairs; Saratoga closes performance venue
Casinos remain open — with cutbacks — during virus crisis
Slot machines at Rivers Casino & Resort in Schenectady
Photographer: File photo by Marc Schultz/Staff Photographer

SCHENECTADY — Casino gambling will continue in the Capital Region during the COVID-19 crisis. But casinos won’t be as crowded.

Over 1,000 people work at Rivers Casino & Resort and Saratoga Casino Hotel, the two local gambling facilities. And each day thousands visit to play millions of dollars in slot machines or table games.

On Friday, as state-imposed restrictions on venues hosting large gatherings of people took effect, both facilities announced they’d remain open, but with reductions.

Late Friday afternoon, Rivers said it was awaiting further guidance from state leaders, but in the meantime it would:

  • Postpone all entertainment on site for at least three weeks;
  • Reduce the casino capacity to 450 people;
  • Turn off every other slot machine and remove every other chair at table games to increase the distance between guests, and reduce transmission of germs;
  • Limit entry by guests to the parking garage entrance.

Saratoga Casino said Friday that it had closed its Vapor entertainment venue and canceled all live performances through March 31.

But on guidance from the state Gaming Commission, it is leaving its casino, horse racing and hotel open at this time.

Both facilities said they have kicked up their normal cleaning and sanitizing protocols to include new chemicals and procedures.

They’re also monitoring the health of guests and employees.

And both repeated the guidance that everyone should be able to recite in their sleep by now:

Stay home if you’re sick. Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. And don’t touch your own face or someone else’s hands.

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